For those of you who aren’t familiar with this game or franchise, the Dead Rising series of games are an open world survival horror beat em up video game, which in my personal opinion has slowly shifted into a more humorous tone with each instalment. This isn’t exactly a massive issue, but it makes one of the games biggest aspects less of a threat… the zombies. Due to the latter instalments of the franchise taking more of a humorous tone, the game becomes less about tactically managing weapons and scouring the map for items that are vital for your survival and more about slaughtering everything that dares to cross your path. The survival horror style game becomes more of an action adventure game in which a horde of zombies become far less threatening and more often than not, incredibly easy to quickly dispose of. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying I dislike this because it’s the exact opposite… I love it! But at the same time, I do miss the older titles more challenging approaches to the how things were handled. Also, before we get started I will be discussing main plot points of this game so I advise that if you do not wish for the game’s story to be spoiled that you play this prior to reading my review.
A year after the zombie outbreak in Los Perdidos, California, Frank West, a former photojournalist now working as a college professor, is approached by one of his students, Vicky “Vick” Chu, who convinces him to help her investigate a military compound, situated on the outskirts of Willamette, Colorado – the site of the first zombie outbreak. Once inside, they discover that the place is being used for zombie research, but are discovered and forced to flee, with Frank labelled a fugitive after he is falsely accused by the government.
A few months later, near Christmas, Frank is found by Brad Park, an agent of the ZDC, who convinces him to help investigate a new zombie outbreak that started in Willamette during the Black Friday sales, in exchange for the means to clear his name and having exclusive rights to the story, revealing that Vick has already left to investigate the matter herself.
Dead Rising 4 – Plot Summary [Wikipedia]
Dead Risings 4 story and set-up are quite a simple yet satisfying, you find yourself returning back to the setting of the first instalment of the franchise… the only and only Willamette, but this time it’s not just the shopping mall! This title features a much more open locale than players first encounter with the Willamette area, giving you much more space to wreak havoc and explore till your heart’s content. Although it’s a familiar locale Dead Rising 4 takes a different approach with its story, rather than having a countdown timer from the get go, or even in the build up the games, final moments, were more or less given as much time as we need to play through the game. Meaning prioritising tasks based on how much time we had left, is no longer really relative, which I personally find good and bad for the following reasons…
Good Factors Without Countdown Timer
- More time to explore the map.
- Time to collect all collectables without multiple playthroughs.
- Level grinding is easy and without pressure.
Bad Factors Without Countdown Timer
- Lacking the challenge that the timer previously imposed.
- The game becomes very relaxed and a less intense.
- Less drive for multiple playthroughs.
These are just a few factors that can have a big impact on how players will feel when they play through this title. Newcomers won’t really notice or care about this change but hardcore fans will definitely notice it.
In all honestly I think one of the biggest changes to Dead Rising 4 was the removal of the timer from the original story mode, it made the games focus shift from tactically handling story missions and side quests to just rampaging through everything without a care in the world. Don’t get me wrong, I love a slaughter-fest game when it’s done well and Dead Rising 4 certainly delivers on that, but the game really did lose some of the challenge and the charm the previous titles brought to the table. Without this aspect of the campaign, the game becomes more of a leisurely stroll in which you have plenty of time to handle all of the game’s tasks that are presented to you, to be fair this isn’t a massive issue but I’d of liked it to stick to its roots and offer this style of game mode as a reward for finishing the game or even the default for the game’s easy mode. If it’s offered to the players down the line as some sort of on-disc DLC then I’d be quite disappointed.
Another change, whichI found to be a bit disappointing was how the psychopaths were handled. Normally I’d always find myself excited and eager to tackle the next psychopath, mostly due to the interesting cutscenes, introductions, and character interaction and dialogue prior to and after their respective fights. This time around it seems like this type of setup was totally scraped and less love and care were put into crafting the psychopaths and their respective stories, no cutscenes and poor introductions with lacklustre fights that ended quicker than I had hoped for. Dead Rising 4’s psychopaths felt like fighting just another enemy and I really found this to take all of the enjoyment out of fighting them. You can see in the video above that there wasn’t really any introduction to the battle and that I just laid waste to him in no time at all, although that could be done in previous titles, it just felt like fighting another zombie with a gimmick rather than a unique character that’s meant to make you want to hunt and battle them. If we were to look back to Dead Rising, for example, the psychopath battle with Adam MacIntyre (AKA Adam The Clown) is one that still sticks in my mind to this day, the introduction and the battle itself were executed perfectly and this type of love and care is definitely lacking in Dead Rising 4… but I digress.
A variety of regular vehicles and craft vehicles make a return in this game and they are well needed to make quick work of covering the map when you are trying to get to your next objective in a hurry… but in saying that its pretty much the only time I felt that I needed to utilise them. If I wasn’t walking from A to B disposing of everything in my sight with my trusty custom weapons, I was suited and booted up in the games new feature and item the “Exo Suit”. To be fair, I didn’t use this that often unless it was a requirement or had been quite some time since I last used one.
Even though the suit basically makes you unstoppable from the moment you put it on, it only has a time limit of 2 minutes and sometimes you might find yourself in a pickle if it runs out and you are left with no weapons in the middle of a horde of zombies, so you are best to come prepared for this happening just in case. Don’t feel that the suit is strong enough for you? well the suit itself can be powered up with combo items that are unique to it and offer some pretty interesting combo moves, so it does make it more appealing to throw it on when you want to go about on a mass undead killing spree but bear in mind you cannot use any vehicles when this is equipped and if you accidentally try and use one it will automatically dispose of your trusted Exo suit and leave you feel quite upset and bare. But that’s enough about the Exo Suit! Let’s move on.
As I previously stated, Dead Rising 4s story is a simple one so I will refrain from covering my thoughts on the entirety of it and focus on the climax of the game’s story. The ending of Dead Rising 4 was intense, action packed and it kept me on the edge of my seat eagerly for more. Albeit exciting, the events that this section was building up to were very predictable and I think this took away quite a bit of the suspense and made it more of a case of waiting for the inevitable to happen… but this is where the massive twist lies. At the very end of the game, Frank West sacrifices himself in order to save his friends, although it’s a courageous act and it’s meant to show how Frank has developed as a character throughout it just felt odd and quite unsatisfying to watch. I think this was due to this instalment properly bringing him back into the spotlight, so I personally felt that it seemed quite an odd move to once again throw him right back out of it at the end of the game. The ending makes you believe that Frank is truly gone, but there have been rumours circulating that there is a DLC coming titled “Frank Rising” that may give us the answers to the somewhat abrupt end of Frank West.
Dead Rising 4: Frank Rising: In this DLC, Frank West is freshly infected and needs to find a cure before he becomes a zombie and is lost forever. While searching for a cure, Frank discovers that everything is not the same as it was; zombies are getting smarter, people cannot be trusted and paramilitary forces are plotting to wipe out Willamette. Frank has a limited time before he reverts to the full zombie state and the city is wiped out. Frank will have to get to the truth first… or die trying.
The “Real” Ending – Game Revolution
Although the premise of this “Real Ending” DLC sounds great I personally, I feel that hiding the true ending behind DLC is very anti-consumer and more often than not leaves a bitter taste in the fans mouth. I’ve run into this issue a few times and although I do end up purchasing these “Real Endings” I still feel very cheated in doing so, but alas, I’m a sucker for finding out what really happens myself rather than succumbing to watching it through videos online. But this topic is a whole other story!
And I will revisit this and do an update once the “Real” ending it out!